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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel: Diesel SUV Fuel Economy Tested

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Diesel engines are now offered in a growing number of passenger vehicles on sale this year and next, especially crossovers and sport utilities.

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is one of two popular models this year that offer a good test of how attractive buyers find today's modern diesels. (The other is the 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel compact sedan.)

MORE: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel: The Diesel Jeep Returns

Last weekend, we were able to put a diesel Grand Cherokee through our usual test cycle.

As always, our fuel-economy test runs 250 to 300 miles (253 this time), covering roughly two-thirds highway mileage and one-third stop-and-go city and suburban driving.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, Catskill Mountains, NY, Jan 2014

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, Catskill Mountains, NY, Jan 2014

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Many diesels exceed their EPA ratings in real-world use, especially on the highway, and we were curious to see if the Grand Cherokee diesel would fit the pattern.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014

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We got an indicated fuel economy of 27.4 miles per gallon over our 253 miles of testing, against an EPA rating of 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway) for our model of Jeep's first diesel in several years, fitted with QuadraTrac II 4-wheel drive.

The diesel Grand Cherokee uses a 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel that puts out a substantial 420 lb-ft of torque. It's also fitted to the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel full-size pickup truck.

So, in common with other diesel crossovers we've tested, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel seems to do better than its ratingsin highway-heavy usage.

In our first 10 miles of use, while the engine warmed up during some particularly cold Northeastern winter weather, we saw numbers from 8.3 to 9.8 mpg--though 10 miles is hardly a representative test.

MORE: 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Tested At 28 MPG On Highway

We'd be curious to test the car again over a weekend of pure city and suburban use, to see if those numbers improved.

Many powertrains

Seven combinations of engine and drive are available on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, comprising four engines and 2-wheel- versus 4-wheel-drive. All of them use a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014

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The most efficient non-diesel version is the 2-wheel-drive model with the 290-hp 3.6-liter V-6 engine, at 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway).

For the record, the least efficient is the high-performance Grand Cherokee SRT8, with a huge 470-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and standard 4-wheel-drive, at 15 mpg combined (13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway).

Had we tested the EcoDiesel with only rear-wheel drive, our EPA rating would have been marginally higher, at 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway).

Strong reviews

The 2014 Grand Cherokee has received good reviews from a variety of outlets, and is a popular and profitable vehicle for Chrysler.

MORE: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee range - full review

A few random notes beyond the fuel-efficiency figures:

  • Our high-end Grand Cherokee Overland model, in Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat paint, attracted far more stares and gawking than we expected
  • The interior is far better than any previous generation of Grand Cherokee (we've had two in the family)
  • The handsome leather seats with contrast stitching are not only comfortable but smell nice too
  • On startup from a cold soak, the diesel Jeep still sounds like an ancient garbage truck from the outside: clattery, rattling, and loud
  • Engine noise is well suppressed from inside the car, however
  • With an ambient temperature near 0 degrees F, the engine took roughly 1 second to fire after the button was pressed--not bad

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, Catskill Mountains, NY, Jan 2014

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, Catskill Mountains, NY, Jan 2014

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Our top-of-the-line 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4 came with a base price of $46,195.

The EcoDiesel engine option added a flat $4,500 to the price, including heavy-duty brakes, an 800-Amp battery, the necessary urea exhaust after-treatment system, and the "EcoDiesel" badge (which was actually listed on the window sticker as part of the option).

Beyond that, a $1,995 Advanced Technology Group was the only other option. It included adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, advanced brake assist, and blind-spot and rear cross-path detection.

Adding in the mandatory $995 delivery fee, the bottom line on our test car was $53,685.

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